5 Questions You Should Ask When Looking at Retirement Communities

aerial view of Buena Vida Estates cottages

If you are considering moving to a life plan retirement community, here are five of the most important questions you should ask before choosing:

1. What is the ratio of independent living residents to assisted living and healthcare residents?

Some CCRCs offer mostly independent living residences with a proportionately small number of assisted living or skilled care units available. The concern here is whether there is enough availability for residents to receive adequate care when needed. 

On average independent living residences represent 60-75% of the total residential units.

2. How have your monthly rates changed over the last five years?

This will give you an indication of what to expect going forward so you can plan accordingly and it can provide insight into the organization’s ability to effectively manage finances.

Average fee increases of 3-4% per year are not uncommon in the industry. If you find there have been years when the increase has been substantially more, you should find out why.

3. What services are included in my monthly fee, and what will cost extra?

When a provider shares with you their monthly rates, be sure to find out what types of services are included, and which are extra. This helps prevent unwelcome surprises.

4. How will my monthly rate be impacted if I require assisted living or skilled nursing care?

There are several different types of residency contracts offered by CCRCs. The key with each one is to understand what happens to your monthly fees if you ultimately require assisted living or skilled nursing care.

There is generally a tradeoff.

5. What happens if I run out of money due to things beyond my control (like high medical expenses)?

Most CCRCs, especially not-for-profit providers, will do everything possible to help residents stay put and receive services if they run out of money due to no fault of their own.

In fact, many maintain a foundation or fund specifically to help with this.

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